The Sizzle

Issue 247 - Wednesday, 5th October 2016 - Wasting Another Night On Planning My Revenge


Google’s new Pixel smartphones
Google's Nexus smartphones are no more - they've been replaced by the Pixel and Pixel XL. HTC made these phones for Google, but every aspect was made by Google and according to them, the Pixel isn't just a phone with stock Android, but Google's take on what a flagship smartphone should be. Inside there's the top non-Apple SoC, the Snapdragon 821, there's 5" and 5.5" (the XL) models, 4GB RAM, 32 or 128GB capacities, LTE, non-replaceable battery, no microSD slot, a 3.5mm headphone socket and Android 7.1. DxOMark reckon it is the best camera on any smartphone. It includes free unlimited Google Photo storage, has Duo and Allo pre-installed and includes the new Google Assistant. The Pixel will go on sale in AU on the 20th of October for $1079 (32GB) or $1229 (128GB) and the Pixel XL will sell for $1269 (32GB) or 1419 (128GB) at JB Hi-Fi. If you want one on a plan, it's exclusively available from Telstra.

New Chromecast, Daydream VR, Google Wi-Fi and Google Home
Also announced at Google's event was the Chromecast Ultra, a 4K and HDR version of the Chromecast we all know and love. It has ethernet built in! That'll sell for A$99. The Daydream VR thingo Google hyped at I/O a few months ago has been properly revealed too. It's just a fancy version of cardboard with an elastic strap and coated in a nice fabric. What separates Daydream from Cardboard is a little remote control you hold so you can do things whilst engrossed in a VR fantasy land. It'll be out in November and cost $119. There's a new router from Google, called Google Wi-Fi, that supports mesh networking so it can talk to other Google Wi-Fi units in your home to give you blanket coverage. A 3-pack is US$299 and they'll ship in December. Google Home is basically Amazon Echo but by Google and leveraging Google Assistant - US$129 and ships in November. There's no Australian ETA For the Wi-Fi or Home units. The Verge summed up Google's event nicely - Google released an iPhone, a Gear VR, an Amazon Echo and an Eero.

Yahoo went above and beyond to spy on emails
Former employees of Yahoo have revealed it built a system to search through all of its customer's incoming emails, at the request of the NSA and FBI. This is different to how some US companies searched stored emails or specific accounts - Yahoo was filtering everyone's emails, as it arrived into their servers, siphoning off emails with certain words or phrases off to the feds. I don't know what's worse, the fact the government asked for this, or that Yahoo seemed to have no problem doing it, as there was never a legal challenge initiated by Yahoo against the government. Other tech companies have come out to say they were never asked to do this.

Signal subpoenaed but has no data to hand over
Meanwhile, a federal grand jury in the US is forcing Open Whisper Systems, the makers of Signal, to hand over info on two of its users. Of course, Signal said to get fucked and enlisted the American Civil Liberties Union to fight for them. This was going on for months and under a secrecy order so nobody knew. The ACLU managed to fight the secrecy order and has been able to reveal that Signal was subpoenaed for info. In the response to the court, Signal said that it actually has no data to hand over - all it knows is the time an account was created and the time an account last talked to Signal's servers. Snowden likes it.

Credit card with a rolling security number to prevent some fraud
Two French banks have been trialling a new credit card with a rotating security number. Those three digits on the back of your card are supposed to add an extra layer of security when using your card unattended (i.e: online), but naughty people who steal credit cards manage to get that number too. This new card has a little screen on the back of the card and a lithium battery, that makes a new security number every hour, preventing fraud from large card info dumps. The French banks that trialled it have decided to roll it out to all their customers, maybe we'll see it in AU soon? (a minority is gonna use their smartphone to pay for stuff, ok, that's just a nerd fantasy)


eBay 20% off tech sale
There's currently a 20% off tech sale on eBay, using the code C20TEC. Usually there's a couple of bargains around, but not this time. There doesn't seem to be much worth buying that's cheaper on eBay with the coupon than buying it from another store. Maybe you'll find something ya like, but Ozbargain hasn't dug anything up and if they haven't posted anything good, you know something's wrong.

Telstra testing vehicle to internet services over LTE
Telstra has been trialling vehicle to internet (V2I) services over its 4G network. Cars with LTE radios were able to talk to traffic infrastructure to create "clever transport systems". That means stuff like letting drivers know there's traffic ahead and telling drivers how fast to drive so that they avoid red lights to create a continuous flow of traffic. Telstra imagines it'll give emergency vehicles green light priority too. The SA government in onboard, keen to be a base for Australian self-driving car development. It's all very experimental right now, but pretty cool to see some research actually happening in Australia so we aren't left totally behind by the USA.

Concrete keyboard
A concrete keyboard. Cool. The keys aren't concrete, but the case the keys are embedded within is concrete. I want a concrete computer case to go with it. Maybe even a concrete monitor. Concrete aesthetic is on trend, yeah?

Here endeth the sizzle (until tomorrow!)

The Sizzle is curated by Anthony "@decryption" Agius and emailed every weekday afternoon. Today's subject line is from Monkey Wrench, by Foo Fighters. Like The Sizzle? Tell your friends!